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  1. 16 points
    Christmas Statement from the Save Coventry Speedway group. WE would like to extend our Season’s Greetings to all supporters of Speedway and Stock Car Racing at Coventry. Our thanks to all who have supported the Campaign Group efforts over the course of the year, and also to everyone who helped organise and supported the Challenge matches run in 2017 with Coventry Bees not running as part of the official league structure. It has been the worst year imaginable for everyone with a love for the sports at Brandon; from the shattering news that ‘agreements’ for future racing were not to be fulfilled, to the eventual omission of Coventry from the 2017 Premiership, to the deterioration in condition of the stadium throughout the year arising from the lack of security on-site by the owners. Brandon Estates bought the stadium for their own purposes, but in doing so they have shown zero regard for the 89-year history and heritage of the iconic venue, nor the fact that regular visits to Brandon to watch these family sports remained a way of life for many thousands of people throughout the season, right up until the end of 2016. In addition, the intransigence of the owners to engage in reasonable communication is a further indication of their motives, along with the material included within their official representations and public exhibition material – much of which is open to serious question. At the Exhibition in October, comments from the public were invited by planning consultants Framptons. We have seen a number of these responses, and the local reaction is clear - but as with the 2014 Exhibition arising from the initial plans, they appear to be a closely-guarded secret at this time. The display boards also indicated that an outline planning application would be submitted in Autumn 2017. At the time of writing, this has not taken place. We do not know the reason for that, but we can assure Brandon Estates – and their front-man, Monaco-based businessman John Downer – that as soon as their planning application is submitted, we will be ready with strong opposition. They must understand that they cannot simply take two major sports away from the region – sports which were both perfectly viable running in tandem at the stadium – merely on an outrageous speculative bid for development on land which had not been earmarked for that purpose, and expect everyone to sit back and let it happen. Our Campaign Group came together in its present form in the immediate aftermath of Coventry’s exclusion from the 2017 SGB Premiership, and our primary aim was to bring about a return to racing at the stadium for 2018 as well as establishing plans for the long-term continuation of both sports in the area. In those respects, we have regrettably been unsuccessful. The sheer depth of issues to be considered and resolved arising from the activities of recent years has been eye-opening in the extreme, and we have to respect the fact that the timescales of official business are sometimes longer than we would wish for. We believe there is tremendous momentum behind our campaign and overwhelming opposition to Brandon Estates' proposals. So our work will go on into 2018, and there are various events and hearings in the early part of the New Year which will play a vital part in matters going forward. Finally, we must emphasise to all who pass comment on the situation, often on social media, that the status of Brandon Stadium remains absolutely fundamental to the entire argument, and an acceptance that it has been lost to sport permanently is simply not an option. We wish every supporter of Speedway and Stock Car Racing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and we hope 2018 provides some encouragement to everyone who wishes to see our two famous sports restored to their rightful place.
  2. 15 points
    Dead right and that is what sticks in my craw more than anything else. We can all debate the rules that apply to speedway but, however controversial they might be, they can at least be applied consistently by an unbiased, impartial adjudicator. Simple truth is, though, all too often they are not. They are subject to inconsistent, arbitrary, incompetent and illegal rulings by interested parties - parties whose identities are hidden and whose reasons are rarely disclosed. That is almost totally contrary to our system of law and breeds frustration and anger amongst not just fans but officials of clubs as well. Isle of Wight asked for average reduction for Harland Cook last season, a rider who had been out of the sport for years,. They were refused, despite the precedent set for David Wallinger and Luke Clifton the previous season. Later in 2017 Paul Hurry was given an average reduction of almost 3 points, two clubs having been quoted an average in excess of 10.50 during the close season. Matt Marson, who has never ridden in Britain and has a British passport, was at one point graded at a 5.00 - which doesn't even exist in the NL rulebook. You can only believe that such rulings are motivated by spite, jealousy, backscratching and one-upmanship. People can complain about the rulebook and individual rules as much as they like but until its contents are applied consistently, fairly and openly by an independent arbitrator we might as well not have one.
  3. 15 points
    No, it's about having teams of relatively equal strength so that you don't have a race to financial extinction for those who cannot compete economically. It's a case of not having the insanity of paying highly expensive 'star' riders blasting round half a lap in front and taking home more than the total attendance money. Sadly too many fans hide behind the "watered down" mantra that totally fails to realise that the sport in Britain is a brown ale sport trying to live off champagne. Yes, there was a day when we could afford the top talent but those costs have been disastrously escalated by the money being paid in Poland and riders' expectations soaring as a result. The bubble will burst but for now Britain has to find a way to survive until then and if it does not then find a way to survive. Having fans that see that the quality of racing is vastly more important that the quality of names in a sport like ours might help. At this level it's all about putting on meetings that will attract and entertain new crowds, not provide them with uncompetitive meetings but telling them,"Who cares, that's Tai Woffinden half a lap ahead of Jason Doyle". Most would say "Who the hell are they and why is there no action?". British speedway's situation cannot be simplistically laid entirely at the BSPA's door. The competition of Poland and the Grand Prixs have battered British speedway which never stood a chance. When the sport here tries to do something to survive it would be useful if these posturing 'supporters' actually demonstrated that support by dropping this damaging "watered down" rubbish, but then that would ask for a view of the bigger picture that too many cannot or will not even begin to try. This will be my 47th season in the sport and in those years I have watched speedway and often worked in it all levels from World Finals to training tracks. Thankfully I've learned that I was just as likely to see a decent speedway race at Iwade as I would be at Cardiff of Wembley. I would have missed so much joy if I had stupidly stuck to the "I don't DO second division" or "It's watered down" approach. In most sports the greater the talent the greater the entertainment, but that doesn't work in racing unless you have the enormous hype budget of F1. I adore the sight of a match being won by a rider bravely taking the outside line to win on the line and I don't care what his name or reputation is....
  4. 15 points
    Hi everyone, This is a very interesting thread to read and a great post here, although of course I wish that I wasn’t reading it. Anyways, these are very useful when I am doing research into speedway and the general feedback about it. It is clear that there is a lot of frustration out there and I know this thread is dedicated to trying to identify what has gone wrong as opposed to the all the successes it has too. If I look at the points and how it affects my own club (when I write my, me or I, I always mean Martin Widman and myself) there are some very interesting comparisons.... For example, I completely agree about the darts - we watched it on the box last night and I said to my Lisa, how on earth did darts get so good - what took it up to this level and why isn't it possible with speedway. Of course, we all know that it is possible to do it with speedway - we try to put on as much "quality" razzmatazz as possible on race night, the build-up, and all our social events because speedway is no longer just about speedway. However, in my view, the main difference about darts and speedway is anyone can nip down the pub, pick up some arrows and throw them, you can’t for speedway and that the darts we see on the box is the elite players in a conference centre packed with fans, PLUS one-time attenders who are there for the social and fun factor and not just the darts. What we do not see is the regular dart league games. So that is a huge difference – what we are saying is that we want our league matches to have the fun packed adventure of, for example the PDC darts scene, and this is something on the Island we strive to do each week – so aim high. But, there is more… I can play darts easily but I cannot ride a speedway bike easily can I?.... uhhh well actually you can. Come to My First Skid on the island for example (or one of the other great schools across the country). Why have I added this bit…... well because I can prove that people who know nothing about speedway will come to our speedway school with little Johnny or Evie and try riding a speedway / twist and shoot bike (we even have a bike with stabilizers on). Then when they have tried it and realise that they have signed up their baby to ride a bike without brakes and watch some of the more advance riders a flying around their interest is caught... and this has been a big success on the island for us. I cannot begin to tell you, but I would suspect it has put at least 20 families on our gate each week over last year. Attendances.... our attendances last year increased for every meeting bar one... but it was hard work to achieve this.. My First Skid, shows, schools, scouts, you name it we went there. We held a free meeting too which attracted a lot of people but our core focus is on making speedway part of a bigger show that involves kids, rider interaction, fun, up to date music, slick presentation, and for us, this has really worked. While of course we value massively our senior supporters, for example the nice story about Ann Barrett, but at the same time we focus on tomorrow's support too and what makes them want to come to speedway. The truth of this in my view is 2 fold... one they need to feel valued, be entertained, follow a team and receive value for money. (I am not sure I agree with what is the right price to admit someone to speedway thought - but I do know that what you charge for entry must reflect what the person receives. This actually applies to everything – if you received a Micky D’s burger in a Michelin 5 star restaurant you would have cause for disappointment – yet both at the right price offer value to their customer. In other words, if someone leaves and thinks to themselves, that was awful, I didn’t get value, they will not return) and secondly, community.... we now have groups of kids running around the stadium of different ages, going to different schools, from across the Island and the first time I saw this I thought "yes.... that's it". Because I know as a child attending speedway I had different friends there compared to sea cadets, or school... and the truth is I still do. Fixtures... without doubt for us, we run every week and we are expected to run every week and this is vital, in our view, to the clubs success. Admission - we do offer lots of offers for free entry to newbies... but this comes at a “cost” to them. We would like them to give us feedback and to tell us their thoughts. This was another area where we won lots of new fans over the last two years. Integrity.... agree totally. However, I am not sure how we ensure it as I am sure that rule manipulation has always happened. The difference of today vice yesterday is social media and the ability for anyone to find a problem and declare it to the world - I am not suggesting this is wrong of course... it is just very different to how things were, and the sport needs to adapt to this accordingly. Correct it’s not just speedway - it is a fun family night out.... or as we say a fun packed family adventure. We want to entertain from entry to exit and this includes up to 10 mascots out on track for 30 minutes prior to the meeting, open pits, centre green visits, rider interaction, kids cycle race, me getting on a loudhailer when we were losing... and what is interesting for me last year when we had such a tough season not one person said to me - "Barry sort this out", they said, "thanks for another great night loved it.. we will win next week...." (I try to say goodbye to everyone after the meeting). A business plan and a vision... you know when we looked at bringing speedway back we needed a business plan, we still use it, it is a vital part of our daily life, but it also enables us to look at what worked, what cost what, and so on... but all this is encompassed by a vision and when you have a vision you need your sponsors to share this with you (otherwise why would they invest in you and your club), and you need your fans to not only share it but help you achieve it and you need to prove it. When you prove it tell the world about it. We made a promise to never charge for kids 16 and under and we will not (but interestingly I know have people writing to me to offer to buy kids tickets to social events - we never charge for them and they say we know, we want to just help... amazing hey?). Our second promise was to find riders from the island and we do this through My First Skid and we will enter the SDL league with the Wightlink Wizards with a team of students from the school. Finally, I view you coming to watch the Warriors, Wizards or attending a My First Skid session as though you are coming to visit my house. I would be totally gutted if you didn’t have a great time, it’s personal to me, you have actually invested in our club by coming and that is important. Of course we can never get everything right, but we do listen and we do read lots of information on forums and social media, as well as asking our fans for their feedback on how we perform. We never lose sight the we are not millionaires and without a healthy sponsorship and fan base there could not be speedway on the island which is why we put every effort we can to make it succeed. Anyway, thanks for the feedback on here about your views, we appreciate it..... if I could make one request as a promoter, fan, ex-rider, school instructor... is try and match your concern with positivity too because there are lots of it... if we all collectively talk our sport down, it will only go down, nothing will be able to bring it back up, but if we focus on our positives, while working on our concerns we can return our sport to the level it should be at. I know this works.. when kids come through the school… everyone cheers them for their first ride, they are my superstar every time they go out, we educate, we are disciplined but we have the most fun and you know what…. They come back… but you knew I would write that didn’t you. Positivity does work, trust me. Thanks again and I hope to see you trackside in 2018. If you come to the island grab me for a chat I am always in yellow and blue, probably with kids all around me as I look like Mr Tumble, or screaming with the fans. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and thanks again for supporting your club wherever that may be.
  5. 14 points
    He wasn't wrong. As regards the signing of Cook, can't for the life of me think of any reason why Belle Vue wouldn't want to sign him. He is passionate and puts his heart and soul into racing for the club. The kind of rider you LOVE to have in your side. He may not make a successful GP rider (then again he might) but the sport would be in a better place if there were more Craig Cooks in it.
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